Part 135 air taxi operators seeking to add a new aircraft type to their operations need not wait until they receive notice that their amended Air Taxi Registration form (4507) has been approved before commencing operations with the new aircraft. A recent FAA legal opinion acknowledged that filing the amended registration pursuant to 14 CFR 298.23, within 30 days after a change occurs, is sufficient to commence or continue operations after adding a new aircraft type. However, the FAA cautioned that the filing of an amended registration does not relieve the operator of the requirement to obtain approval for any necessary amendment to its operations specifications pursuant to FAR 119.51. The certificate holder is required to file an application to amend its operations specifications prior to the desired effective date of the amendment, but the amendment is not effective until approved by the FAA.
Therefore, when adding a new aircraft type to its operations, an air taxi operator should obtain approval for any necessary amendment to its operations specifications prior to commencing operations with the new aircraft, but it may file its registration amendment within 30 days after the change occurs and still maintain its exemption. Any failure to strictly comply with these regulations will likely result in the operator losing its exemption and becoming the subject of an enforcement action. To avoid these pitfalls, operators should consult with experienced aviation counsel when changing their operations in order to ensure compliance.
In a recent legal interpretation, the FAA weighed in on the requirement that a Part 135 operator have “exclusive use” of at least one aircraft that meets the requirements for at least one kind of operation authorized in the certificate holder’s operations specifications. [14 C.F.R. 135.25(b)]. The legal interpretation analyzed a scenario where the Part 135 operator’s exclusive use aircraft is owned by a limited liability company which also uses the aircraft to conduct Part 91 operators. Distinguishing this aircraft use from aircraft shared solely between Part 135 operators, the FAA reiterated that the term “exclusive use” means “the sole possession, control,and use of the exclusive use aircraft.” The FAA concluded that allowing a Part 135 operator’s exclusive use aircraft to be shared with Part 91 operations would render the Part 135 operator’s use non-exclusive and, therefore, in violation of the regulations.
In its response to a request for legal opinion, the FAA concluded that a pilot working for a part 135 certificate holder cannot perform work for that certificate holder, whether directly or indirectly through a related business or corporation owned by the certificate holder, during the pilot’s mandatory rest period. Although the certificate holder is not required to monitor employee activity that takes place after release from work, such as in the case of work at a restaurant or some other business, including flying for another certificate holder, the FAA cautioned that both the flight crewmember and certificate holder would be in violation of FAR 91.13 if a flight crewmember flies when his lack of rest would endanger others.